Saying the state is not responding to New Canaan’s requests to improve sight lines along a stretch of Route 123 that’s seeing a high number of car crashes, town officials are preparing to do the necessary work themselves.
Following two serious crashes at Smith Ridge and Michigan Roads earlier this year, traffic officials requested that the Connecticut Department of Transportation conduct a study of the area. Two months later, two people were taken to the hospital following another major collision there.
Now, Public Works Director Tiger Mann said he intends to pursue a permit from the DOT to work in its right-of-way in the state road in order to remove a boulder overgrown with trees that limits sight lines for motorists. The outcropping is located on the southeast corner of the intersection.
“We are getting to the point where we are just going to have to take action on our own,” Mann said during a Sept. 17 meeting of the Traffic Calming Work Group. The administrative group includes Mann as well as representatives from the police, fire, emergency management and parking departments.
Police Deputy Chief John DiFederico, also a member of the Work Group, told members of the Police Commission at their Sept. 18 meeting that what’s happening at the curving intersection is drivers coming out of Michigan Road cannot see southbound traffic “until it’s right on top of you because it’s moving 50, 60 mph.”
“And the flip side of that if you traveling northbound on 123 you can’t see cars coming out of Michigan until you’re on top of them,” DiFederico told the Commission. “So our thought is that if we can improve the sight line, that will help drivers in both directions.”
The discussion arose as Police Chief Leon Krolikowski reported to the Commission that in the past five years, New Canaan has seen a total of 169 crashes with injuries out of 1,763 overall accidents.
Within those figures, New Norwalk Road had 74 damage accidents and 19 injury accidents, while Oenoke Ridge had 37 and 11, Ponus Ridge 33 and four, South Avenue 153 and 14 and Smith Ridge Road 36 and 13.
That last figure represents “a high proportion of injury accidents,” Krolikowski said.
“That is why we are focusing our enforcement efforts there,” he said.